Home » Tuesday: Tithes and Offerings    


Tuesday: Tithes and Offerings — 10 Comments

  1. I have replicated a post that I made last year describing the tithing system as layed out in the books of Moses. We often overlook the main lesson that we can learn from tithing, namely that it was more than just a church tax, it was a welfare support system and also provided the means for community celebration.

    Here is the post:

    A discussion of tithing would be incomplete without looking at the verses in books of Moses that discuss tithing and attempting to understand their detail. The main references are:

    Numbers 18: 21-32
    Leviticus 27:31-33
    Deuteronomy 14: 22-29
    There are other verses that also relate to tithe, but these are the references with the greatest detail. Further, I have elected not to discuss some of the other offerings, such as the heave offering, just to keep the information simple. The subject can be quite confusing, so I will give you a couple of pegs to hang the information on.

    When the Israelites occupied Canaan, each tribe was given an allotment of land as their inheritance, except for the tribe of Levi. They were given the task of looking after the temple. The sons of Aaron (also Levites) were designated as priests (known as Kohen or Cohen).

    The tithing cycle was based on a seven-year cycle with the seventh year being a rest year. This is described in Ex 23: 10-11, Lev 25: 1-7, 20-22, Deut 15: 1-6. Essentially this year was set aside as a rest year and no crops were to be sown. Whatever grew naturally belonged to everyone.

    It may be assumed that if this plan had been followed, there would have been no tithe returned in the seventh year, since there was no increase to the farmer.

    There is little evidence either in the Bible or other Jewish writings to suggest that the Sabbath Year was ever kept in its agricultural intent. Certainly, famers understood the necessity for leaving land fallow, but it was done on a crop rotational basis and not as a seventh-year event.

    Numbers 18:21-32

    This passage sets out the tithe to support the Levites. The Levites were to be given the tithe from the Children of Israel. In turn the Levites were to take one tenth of that tithe and give that to the priests. This tithe to the priests had to be the best of what they, the Levites, had been given. Once they had given their tithe to the priests, the Levites could do what they liked with the rest. They could eat it anywhere, as it was considered their wages. The tithe that was passed on to the priests was regarded as sacred and could be eaten only be the priests when they were ritually clean.

    It specifies that when the Levite passed on their 10%, it counted as though the Levites had offered the grain of the threshing floor and the fullness of the wine press.

    In Jewish literature this is known as the first tithe or Maaser Rishon.

    Leviticus 27:31-33

    Two tithes are described here:
    1) The tithe of the land, seeds and fruit. This tithe belongs to the Lord but may be redeemed for 20% more than its value.
    2) The other is a tithe on the herds and flocks. A key feature of this tithe is that there should be no discrimination of quality. Every tenth animal belonged to the Lord. Substitution and redemption was not allowed on animal tithe.

    I think this is also primarily describing the first tithe or Maaser Rishon.

    Deuteronomy 14:22-29

    This describes what are known as the second and third tithes (Maasar Sheni and Maasar Ani).

    This tithe specified setting aside one-tenth of the crops and herds to be taken to “the place in which He shall choose to place his name” (i.e. Jerusalem). If the distance was too great, then they could set aside the value of the tithe in money and take that to Jerusalem. This money could be spent on anything they liked, providing they shared some of it with the Levites.

    In years 3 and 6 of the seven-year cycle, a tithe was to be set aside for the Levite, the foreigner, the widow and the fatherless who is “within your gates. It became known as the “Poor Tithe” or Maasar Ani.

    Some Observations

    The tithing system in Israel was more complex than is sometimes presented in tithing studies. The original descriptions were given during the time of the exodus and preparatory to the settlement of Canaan. In those circumstances most people were involved in some form of subsistence farming, and trading was based essentially on an exchange of goods and services rather than the use of money. This explains why the examples of tithing given in these passages is primarily in terms of crops and herds.

    The first tithe was to support the Levites which, in turn, included support for the priests. The second tithe is more difficult to understand. My first guess is that the second tithe was used primarily to provide for the feast days in Jerusalem, seeing it was essentially marked for purchasing or providing food items in Jerusalem. The third tithe was a welfare tithe to support the poor and needy.


    While it is possible to argue over the specifics, I believe it is more helpful to take a broader view and attempt to understand the principle behind tithing. In Deuteronomy 8 Moses gives the Israelites a bit of a pep talk about how to behave when they get to the promised land. He reminds them that they have been led by God for the past 40 years in the wilderness and that God has looked after them. Their food was supplied, and their feet did not swell. He goes on to say that when they are settled in the promised land, they shouldn’t get big-headed and boast how they had overcome all the obstacles by themselves. Be humble and acknowledge God as the source of your wealth.

    Tithing for the Israelites and the current Seventh-day Adventist Church may not have the same detail, but in principle it is one of the mechanisms whereby we can acknowledge God as the source of our wealth, health and well-being and contribute to the community of believers. Understanding the principle may go far towards dissipating the feeling of coercion that some people have about the tithe and replacing it with a spirit of thankfulness.

    • “ It may be assumed that if this plan had been followed, there would have been no tithe returned in the seventh year, since there was no increase to the farmer.”

      I think it should be noted that there was increase in the 7th year for those that observed the jubilee. For the fruit trees still bore fruit, the grain still reproduced of what was left behind and not gleaned and there was an increase. I’m sure even the animals had offspring… Royce

    • Dear Brother Maurice,
      WoW!! There's a lot of information, but it's very good. Keep sending out great information, and may God bless you and your family!


    They returned to their homes to take up the ordinary pursuit of life.

    They dwelt in their homes and strove to attain temporal prosperity.

    They murmured and doubted and chose to make personal interests first.

    But their situation was deplorable. The elements of nature seemed to conspire against them.

    Spiritually as well as temporarily, they were in a pitiable state.

    They viewed with apathy the Lord's temple in ruins and many lost sight of the Lord's purpose in restoring them to Judea.

    They didn't prosper because they didn't put God's interest first.

    Their desire to escape poverty led them to neglect the temple, but this neglect brought them what they feared.

    Is it time for you to dwell in nice house the church lies in waste?

    What have you gained by serving self?

  3. The tribe of Levi does not have inheritance.
    That means they could not go and work in a land and support themselves.
    If the people did not pay tithe and offering, the Levite would have to sell himself as a slave to earn a living to support his family.

    Jesus knew the corruption of the church.
    In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said, show justice, mercy and faith that does not mean stop paying your tithe and offering to the church.
    His specific command is for us to do both.

    Philippians 4: 15 - 18 Paul talks about receiving help from those who voluntarily supported his ministry.
    2 Corinthians 11:8-9 Paul once again is supported by the offering from the people of Macedonia.

    The work of God must be supported by the local people's tithe and offering.
    We read over and over again, when we neglect the house of God, God also neglects his people.
    How can we expect help from someone when we have deliberately turned back?
    When God is not our center of focus, God allows the idol in our life to take ownership of our life.

    Let's imagine a conversation
    God: You have not fed me when I was in need.
    Person: God when did we see you in need and did not feed you.
    God: I came to your house (church) seeking help in time of my need and the doors were shut because there were not enough funds available to support the need.
    Person: God they were corrupt people.
    God: Because you thought you knew better (than God), I had to use a heathen to answer the need of my child. Had they seen the church in action they would have accepted and be found In Christ. Now they will have to learn about agape in heaven. You have lost your position in bearing fruit for me. All the branches that does not bear fruit shall be thrown into the fire.

    Ellen White against her will went to Australia because she accepted the decision made by the church leaders.
    God expects us to be obedient to the command given unto us.

    • The Levite's were given cities and the common land around those cities, for their animals and to grow crops. Not all the Levite's or priests worked at the temple all the time. They were divided into 24 groups and took turns going to minister at the temple. 1Chron 24:18-19
      For example remember Zacharias the father of John the Baptist Luke 1:8-9, 23 he was serving at the temple "in the order of his division" when the angel appeared to him, and when "his days of service were completed" he went home to his own house. It was thus normal for the Levite's to return to their houses and lands but what I believe Nehemiah found was that they were staying there and not taking their turns to serve at the temple.

  4. Giving back to God part of the income makes us conscious that God is the ultimate giver. He allows us to have what we have. He is the owner of everything, He created all things perfect! Sin destroyed this. Sin made lots of things ugly! When we share our income with God we admit His ownership, His sacrifice for us! Tithing is not for God's benefit, is for ours!
    I ask anyone who reads this to pray for me and for my family. There is a disease in the house, and we need cure! Thank you.

    • Dear Mr. Zielak,
      Have faith in God; for He see what you (and all of us) are going through, and will provide an answer quickly.

      We will be praying for you; but on your end, please listen to what God is trying to say to you, whatever it may be. We all need to Pray harder that we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us, for He knows what is Best for us.

      Be Strong and of Good Courage, remembering that Jesus is there with you right now, and at some points during this tribulation, He is there carrying you through those times when you feel like you can't bear your burdens any longer. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.", Matthew 11:28.

      Brothers and sisters of this Blog, our brother here is hurting. Please send him a short message of encouragement, and send up prayers for him and his family, like they did in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". God bless you all.

  5. Brother Zelak,
    My prayers are with you and your family, may God's strength be made perfect in your weakness. As He consoled the Apostle Paul, His grace is sufficient for you. Hold on to the profession of your faith w


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>